Victim Characteristics of Investment Fraud
28 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2018 Last revised: 3 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 31, 2019
Investment fraud constitutes a major problem in the United States. While several studies have investigated various aspects of fraud, none have analyzed victim characteristics of investment fraud. This study posits five fraud languages that, when used by fraudsters, shut down the perceived need to conduct due diligence in their victims: perceived success; air of familiarity; claim to authority; noble pursuits; and framed authenticity. Using the Health and Retirement Study data from 2008, 2010, and 2012, the authors found that respondents who were male, were better educated, were single, younger, and possessed greater net worth disproportionately reported being defrauded in the past five years. Additionally, deploying principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that respondents who made responsible spending decisions, specifically those who were more likely to spend wealth over their entire lives as opposed to spending greater percentages of wealth on short-term needs, were less likely to report fraud. This study lays the groundwork for linking the five fraud languages to various factors such as financial literacy and dependency arising from questions within the HRS data set. Implications for such findings include protecting individuals near retirement from fraud and spreading public awareness about the importance of due diligence in the investment decision process.
Keywords: fraud, investment fraud, behavioral finance, victim characteristics, fraud languages
JEL Classification: G40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation